MARCH 24-25 AUCTION OFFERS ORIGINAL ARTWORK, SIGNED CARDS AND AN UNFINISHED ‘MAGIC: THE GATHERING’ BLACK LOTUS PAINTING BY THE LATE ARTIST
By Steve Lansdale
For many collectors, who you know can be every bit as important as what you know.
Consider the case of Jeff Ferreira. The owner of Who’s On First, a collectible cards shop in Dublin, California, took his girlfriend and some of his staff to the Magic: The Gathering World Championship in San Francisco in 2004; his staffers were already immersed in the trading card games community, and he wanted his now-wife to see another part of his life. While there, the group met Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield and an artist named Christopher Rush.
“I went over and talked to him, and he and I just started talking and hanging out,” Ferreira says of Rush, “and we realized that we just kind of grew up in different places, but we had the same interests. He loved comic books. He loved fantasy. He worked on Dungeons & Dragons way back.”
From that initial interaction grew a friendship that lasted until Rush died in 2016; Ferreira also became Rush’s agent. Locals who frequented Who’s On First sometimes encountered the artist signing autographs or painting in Ferreira’s shop.
Rush became the preeminent artist for Magic: The Gathering, and over the years, Ferreira acquired a selection of his friend’s works – 268 of which will be up for grabs March 24-25 at Heritage Auctions in The Jeff Ferreira Collection Featuring Christopher Rush Collectibles Trading Card Games Signature® Auction.
The decision to part with Rush’s art wasn’t easy for Ferreira.
“I have such an emotional attachment to so much of this, and I’m not letting go of everything,” he says. “There’s some stuff that I’m keeping – stuff that there’s no way that I can let go of right now.”
THE JEFF FERREIRA COLLECTION FEATURING CHRISTOPHER RUSH COLLECTIBLES TRADING CARD GAMES SIGNATURE® AUCTION 7323
March 24-25, 2023
Among the highlights in Ferreira’s collection is a Magic: The Gathering Artist Proof Black Lotus Limited Edition Beta that is being offered at public auction for the first time. The Black Lotus is the most powerful card in the game, and this example is signed by Rush, which only increases its potential as the centerpiece of any collection. CGC awarded the NM/Mint+ 8.5example a “blue” label, marked Signature Verified by Jeff Ferreira on the holder and awarded the following sub-grades: centering (8.5), surface (9), corners (8.5) and edges (8.5). The rarity of the card cannot be overstated; its known population is exceedingly small, and copies – especially signed copies – rarely become available.
Also available is a Black Lotus Limited Edition Beta graded GEM MINT 9.5 by BGS. The offered example comes from the Beta edition, which indicates a print run of just 3,000 copies. The card is one of only 59 examples to earn a GEM MINT 9.5 grade (with only four higher) from BGS and one of just 20 from that group that is “quad 9.5” or higher.
All of the lots in the auction hold sentimental value for Ferreira, including a signed and dated Black Lotus illustration Rush created in 2014. But he says one piece is especially meaningful: an unfinished Black Lotus illustration his friend started painting in late 2015, just a few months before he died.
“I have the last painting that Christopher was working on, and it’s of the Black Lotus. He was painting it for my wife and me,” Ferreira says. “Unfortunately, it’s unfinished, and in a way, it’s got a beauty that others will never have because to me it’s an unfinished painting for an unfinished life. Chris died at 50, and he had so much more to give. I’m actually happy that it was unfinished. It’s really hard for me to let it go.”
STEVE LANSDALE is a staff writer at Intelligent Collector.